World GI 2016: Chemoradiotherapy After Surgery for Gastric Cancer Shows Similar Outcomes to Postoperative Chemotherapy

Key Points

  • Researchers found a 5-year survival rate of 40.8% in the chemotherapy arm and 40.9% in the chemoradiotherapy arm, showing equivalent efficiency between the two treatment options.
  • There was a higher incidence of grade 3 or higher hematologic adverse events in the chemotherapy arm (44% vs 34%) but a higher incidence of gastrointestinal adverse events in the chemoradiotherapy arm (42% vs 37%).
  • A significant number of patients did not start or complete the full course of either chemotherapy or chemoradiotherapy: 52% in the chemotherapy arm and 47% in the chemoradiotherapy arm.

Postoperative treatment intensification with chemoradiotherapy does not achieve better outcomes compared to postoperative chemotherapy in patients with gastric cancer who have already undergone preoperative chemotherapy, according to phase III data presented by Verheij et al at the ESMO 18th World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer in Barcelona (Abstract LBA-02).

“The rationale of postoperative chemoradiotherapy after preoperative chemotherapy is to combine systemic and locoregional treatments to reduce the risk of recurrent disease and improve outcomes,” said the study’s principal investigator, Marcel Verheij, MD, PhD, of the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

Perioperative (pre- and postoperative) chemotherapy is the current standard of treatment for gastric cancer, but previous studies have suggested that postoperative chemoradiotherapy alone may improve outcomes to a similar extent.

Study Details

In this phase III study, 788 patients with stage Ib–IVa resectable gastric cancer were randomized upfront and were all given preoperative chemotherapy consisting of three courses of epirubicin, a platinum compound (cisplatin or oxaliplatin), and capecitabine.

After surgery, patients randomized to the “standard” arm continued with another three courses of the same chemotherapy regimen, while the others received chemoradiotherapy involving 45 Gy in 25 fractions combined with weekly cisplatin and daily capecitabine.

Key Findings

The researchers found a 5-year survival rate of 40.8% in the chemotherapy arm and 40.9% in the chemoradiotherapy arm, showing equivalent efficiency between the two treatment options.

There was a higher incidence of grade 3 or higher hematologic adverse events in the chemotherapy arm (44% vs 34%) but a higher incidence of gastrointestinal adverse events in the chemoradiotherapy arm (42% vs 37%).

While the surgical quality was very high in the study, researchers noted that a significant number of patients did not start or complete the full course of either chemotherapy or chemoradiotherapy: 52% in the chemotherapy arm and 47% in the chemoradiotherapy arm.

Dr. Verheij noted that the team had anticipated a better outcome from the postoperative chemoradiotherapy arm compared to the perioperative chemotherapy arm. He added that subgroup analyses may identify specific patient populations who will benefit from either approach.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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